A Designer’s Own Home

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I’m going to let you in on the biggest and easiest decorating tip there is – a clean house.  ~ Jamie Lauriault

Yes it is as simple as that.  You don’t have to have the most expensive furniture or fine art, or objects in your home.  What you really need is a clean home. Think about it, if you go into your grandmothers home with old fashioned furniture and your great grandparents picture on the wall and doilies everywhere but it’s clean, it looks nice, you know they are comfortable in the space and they’re happy and that’s their idea of decorating – good job I say.   Take the same home but there is dirty carpet, cobwebs, dust everywhere, nothing put away, coats, shoes left laying around, dirty dishes on the counter,  and a toilet that never gets cleaned.  How stressful, unhealthy and unhappy do you think these people are living in this space?  So try giving your home a good cleaning and hopefully you will feel good about your home without having to buy a thing and therefore feel like you are in a decorated space.

My design ideas are practical and budget friendly.  I’m all about using what you have along with some new pieces that make you feel good in your space.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to shop, but I try to shop keeping in mind when I see something that I really like, I have to ask myself where will I use this and how many times will I use it.  Another example is if you love a painting or a sculpture and every time you look at it, it makes you have emotion, then you should include this somewhere in your home, simply due to the fact that it brings pleasure to you.  But if in a situation where your partner doesn’t share your decorating ideas, compromise is the answer.  If one person is more in charge of decorating decisions, then you have to consider how the other person feels when they are in the space and if it makes them happy.  Just going ahead and doing what you want to do, doesn’t make it right.  When you live in a shared space and you have asked several times what color do you like or do you like this, and the answer is vague, then this is what I suggest, watch and listen. By that I mean what color does this person always choose when shopping for clothes? It could be more than one color and it could be also be with pattern, but there’s your clue.  When you go out to a restaurant, hotel, vacation or window shopping take time to see when and what are they are most attracted to and what they are comfortable around and take that as a design idea. Is it modern, country, traditional, these are examples.

I love to reuse and reinvent antiques, second hand furniture of course in good shape, old table linens, quilts, and art work.  For example, I just purchased a quirky vase from The Postman’s Antiques in Shelburne.  It’s a retro blown glass base with a bowl on the top, I put water in the bowl with floating candles and placed it on my coffee table in the living room, it looks awesome and is now a new conversation piece.  I also purchased 4 water color paintings of the tall ships that came to Midland.  I have purchased new frames with mats and reframed the paintings myself and have them hung up in my foyer.  This is something I loved but it also made my husband happy because they’re ships, something considered manly, compromise, it made us both happy.  Now speaking about using second hand furniture, there is nothing wrong with doing this, just make sure it is in good shape, see what manufacturer made it and if it’s worth it.  Second hand furniture can be reupholstered and it is not as expensive as people think it is.  I purchased 2 arm chairs 3 years ago with the plan of reupholstering them, they happened to be in the right color so I have been able to wait until I was ready to them done.  I now am ready and have chose my fabric from Fabricland in Barrie along with fabric for some stationary drapery panels.  I am really looking forward to this change for our living room.  I also am known for purchasing antique glass bowls, water pitchers, silver cutlery, some silver pieces for the bar and china as I love to host tea parties.  I use all of my dishes, a guilty pleasure of mine, all of the time, friends and family never know how the table will be set.  Fortunately my husband loves antiquing as much as I do, and believe it or not, our son and daughter grew up with this as a past time and are now adults and love doing this also.

Decorating goes off into many small categories, entertaining friends and family is one of them. Take stock of what you have and use it, don’t waste your life stressing about using your china, so you have to hand wash them, use this time to have conversation with your friends.  Mix and match table settings, it’s more fun, use candles and flowers.  Use bouquets of carnations, they are inexpensive and go a long way and they are beautiful.  I use them all of the time.  I love to put a small vase of flowers on a bedside table in my guest room and I provide housecoats left hanging in the closet for my guests to use and they love it.  I buy white housecoats because they are clean looking and will go with any décor you choose for your guest room.

Organization is the key to less stress.  I can’t stress enough about getting yourself organized, yes it will take time to go out and purchase baskets and bins and then time to clean out closets and cabinets and arrange like items together and label these bins.  Believe me once you have done this, it will be so easy to find a light bulb because they’re all in one bin, or a flash light etc.  Go to Canadian Tire or any other box store and buy a shelving unit that will hold bins or baskets and organize your hats, mitts, and scarves.  Put the cabinet together and  install it right inside your closet if you have room.  Buy a cork board and some small hooks , screw the hooks into the cork, hang this up on the wall inside your clothes closet and hang up your jewellery, so much easier to find that necklace.

In terms of stationary design meaning flooring, tile, cabinets, plumbing products, etc. this is an area where you should seek out professional advice and possibly installation also.  You should buy the best product that you can afford knowing that this is for the long term.  Getting the first stage correct will help in all of your other design decisions.

When purchasing new furniture, if it’s a long term item such as a sofa, dining table etc. look for quality pieces.  If you buy a better made piece, it will last longer and will most likely stay in fashion longer.  Smaller pieces such as a console table or a chest for your hall, may not work in another home if you were to move, so don’t go overboard on accessory pieces of furniture.  Be okay with yourself buying a particular piece that fits your present home knowing that this may not work in another home and therefore money spent and not recoverable.  Be sure to make an informed decision.  This includes built-in bookshelves, window seats, anything that would be considered permanent. If you’re in it for the long term, go ahead and enjoy the pleasure of having built-ins etc. but if you know it’s not long term, then perhaps buy a moveable bookcase unit, even if you can’t use it again, you can recover your money by selling this furniture, the internet is a good source for selling items.

My personal inspiration for decorating is anything that makes me smile or happy.  I will admit I am addicted to watching decorating shows, they are a wealth of ideas.  I get inspiration from the country side.  My husband and I go for Sunday drives and we see lots of beautiful homes and we love to look at how people have landscaped their properties also.  I get inspiration from what nature offers in color and beauty and I try to bring this serene calmness into anyone’s home that I decorate.

Jamie Lauriault

Jamie Lauriault Interior Designs ~ jllauriault@hotmail.com

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